OVER 27,000 STS, FOREST DWELLERS FACE EVICTION IN ASSAM OVER SC ORDER! - DeskO [Desk Opinion]

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Friday, February 22, 2019

OVER 27,000 STS, FOREST DWELLERS FACE EVICTION IN ASSAM OVER SC ORDER!

With the Supreme Court asking Assam and 15 other states in the country to clear the encroachment from forest lands, over 27,000 people are all set to lose their claims on the lands they have been living since ages.

A bench of the apex court including Justice Arun Mishra, Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee have asked the chief secretaries of Assam and 15 other states to file affidavits before July 12 explaining why orders for eviction have not been carried out till date.

The apex court has also fixed July 24 as the deadline for clearing the eviction.

Although a total of 74,364 scheduled tribe people filed claims followed by 19,966 claims by other traditional forest dwellers (OTFD), the government has rejected the claims of 27,534 people including 22,398 belonging to the scheduled tribes and 5,136 claims belonging to by the OTFD.

As the apex court have asked the states to clear the eviction by July 24 this year, these 27,534 are all set to lose their land and they would not be able to get any compensation of rehabilitation package.

The total extend of land claimed by STs is 10128 hectares while the total extent of land claimed by OTFD is 561.4 hectares.
 
It may be mentioned here that a bench of the apex court headed by Justice Madan B Lokur on April last year imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 each on Karnataka, Kerala, UP, MP, Assam, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telengana for not filing their affidavits despite several opportunities.

Armed with a order from the Gauhati High Court, the BJP led government in Assam had started an eviction drive in Amsang wildlife sanctuary, Garbhanga reserved forest Kaziranga National Park, Behali reserve forest, Chariduar resrve forest, Biswanath reserve forest since 2016 – which, however, had to be stalled due to public protests and litigation by some organizations.

The apex court has also asked the governments to clear the forest land from under encroachment before July 24, in case the eviction orders have attained finality. The apex court further said that the matter will be viewed seriously if the eviction were not carried out by July 24, 2019.

About five sq km of Amsang’s 78.64 sq km area is under encroachment by an estimated 3, 418 people belonging to 864 families.

Similarly, the government had also carried out an eviction drive in Garbhanga reserve forest of the state in 2018. While the government restricted its efforts to demolishing of 10 to 20 houses inside the Garbhanga reserve forest, settlers have settled once again in the cleared lands.

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